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Thugs and Kisses (Odelia Grey Series #3)
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Thugs and Kisses (Odelia Grey Series #3)

4.8 5
by Sue Ann Jaffarian

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With the class bully murdered at her 30th high school reunion and her boss, the annoying Michael Steele, missing, Odelia doesn't know which hole to poke her big nose into first. This decision is made for her as she's again swept into the action involving contract killers, tangled relationships, and fatal buyer's remorse. Throughout this adventure, Odelia deals with


With the class bully murdered at her 30th high school reunion and her boss, the annoying Michael Steele, missing, Odelia doesn't know which hole to poke her big nose into first. This decision is made for her as she's again swept into the action involving contract killers, tangled relationships, and fatal buyer's remorse. Throughout this adventure, Odelia deals with her on-again, off-again relationship with Greg and her attraction to detective Devon Frye.


"The best title yet in a priceless series...a real treat for chick-lit and mystery fans who like feisty women."—Library Journal(starred review)

"Odelia Grey is delightfully large and in charge in Jaffarian's third entertaining romp (after 2003's The Curse of the Holy Pail)."—Publishers Weekly

"The best one yet...an intriguing, well-plotted mystery that will entertain and inspire."—The Strand Magazine
"Odelia is a character that could easily be a good friend. She's down to earth and likeable. While she doesn't fit into Hollywood's size 0 body criteria, she's a good, plus size fit for the real people and mystery readers of the world."—Deadly Pleasures

"Written with a light touch but a keen eyefor detail, this satisfying entry in the Odelia Grey series also has room for a little romance."—Booklist

"Jaffarian's clear talent is that she delivers characterization so well drawn it destroys cliché, tramples trite expectations, and delivers a heroine pulsing with personality."—Crime and Suspense

"Snappy dialogue."—Kirkus Reviews

"I wish I'd had Odelia Grey as my paralegal when I was on The Practice. Gutsy, smart, and loveable, she is the perfect take-no-prisoners heroine for today's woman."—Camryn Manheim, Emmy Award-winning actress

“Sue Ann Jaffarian does a masterful job. Once you get to know Odelia Grey, you’ll love her. I know I do.”—Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of Snakeskin Shamisen

"Thugs and Kisses is a very enjoyable reading experience."—Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round Reviews

"[L]ight and breezy...a good time to pass your lunch break with."—Feminist Review

"[H]ighly recommended to those interested in a fun, suspenseful mystery.You will not be disappointed."—Reader Views

"Odelia Grey is definitely a force to be reckoned with."—ReviewingTheEvidence.com

"Jaffarian tells a great story...a delight to read."—ReviewedByLiz.com

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

California-based paralegal Odelia Grey is delightfully large and in charge in Jaffarian's third entertaining romp (after 2003's The Curse of the Holy Pail). While Odelia's wheelchair-bound beau, Greg, stays home nursing a cold, she's escorted to her 30th high school reunion by attractive widower Devin Frye, a Newport Beach homicide detective with a crush on Odelia. When the night shapes up to be a repeat of Odelia's most humiliating high school experience, her tormentor, Donny Oliver, unexpectedly ends up dead. The list of suspects includes every person who ever knew Oliver, including his wife. But Odelia's investigation has barely begun when her stalwart boss, Mike Steele, vanishes right before a major trial. Partnering with a former high school archenemy, Odelia discovers other high school acquaintances with connections to the upcoming trial. Odelia puts her life and love life on the line as she races to thwart a gang of surprisingly enterprising evildoers. The double whammy of an ending will leave fans eager for the next installment. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In her third sleuthing outing after Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail , paralegal and world-class snoop Odelia Grey attends her 30th high school reunion, where the class bully who humiliated her at the prom years ago is murdered. Good thing her date is police detective Devin Frye, who gives Cordelia an alibi. Then her boss, Mike Steele, vanishes, and the head of her legal firm asks her to find him. This is the best title yet in a priceless series: the unstoppable Odelia never waivers in her quest to find Steele while involving herself in another murder investigation and juggling her up-and-down love life. Humorous asides and grown-up innuendo abound. A real treat for chick-lit and mystery fans who like feisty women.

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A missing boss and a dead classmate upset Odelia Grey's delicately balanced social life. Plus-sized paralegal Odelia Grey (The Curse of the Holy Pail, 2007, etc.) was supposed to go to her high school reunion with Greg Stevens, her official boyfriend. But paraplegic Greg has a cold, and the challenge of facing on her own the popular kids who tormented her as a teenager is too much. So she enlists towering Newport Beach detective Devin Frye to squire her. It doesn't take much arm-twisting, since Dev's crush on her is as massive as he is. There's nothing wrong with a police escort, especially when Donny Oliver-most popular and meanest of Odelia's class-gets snuffed out mid-waltz. Nor is Dev a bad sounding board when Mike Steele, the irascible lawyer whom Carl Yates of Wallace, Boer, Brown, and Yates counts on her to manage, disappears. When Yates gives Odelia free rein to investigate, she alternates between interviewing Steele's circle, including pal Tim Weber of rival firm Goldberg-Rawlings, ex-wife Karen Meek and a few former classmates. But Dev, Greg and even best friend Zee Washington warn her to steer clear of them all, pitting her sleuthing instincts against everyone she cares about. Snappy dialogue, but a convoluted and improbable plot.

Product Details

Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Publication date:
Odelia Grey Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


“Why am I not surprised?”

The question, phrased more like a long-suffering supplication to a supreme being, was accompanied by a copy of this morning’s Orange County Register being tossed onto my small, cluttered desk like an under-thrown Frisbee.

When it slid to a stop, just short of smacking my almost-full coffee mug, I saw that the paper was open to the front page of the local news section and folded in such a way as to show off a photo of me—yes, moi, Odelia Patience Grey. The caption above the photo blazed: Food Fight Erupts at Local Market.

A resigned sigh escaped my lips. I had hoped that no one would recognize me. After all, in the caption under the grainy photo, I was merely referred to as an unidentified woman.

The question had come from Mike Steele, my boss. He stood in front of me, waiting for an answer to what I felt was not a question deserving of a response. In my opinion, it had sounded purely rhetorical in nature. I continued to stare down at the fuzzy photo in the paper, my lips tighter than a pair of size 6 shoes on size 9 feet.

Michael Steele is a partner at Wallace, Boer, Brown and Yates, the law firm in Orange County, California, at which I am employed as a paralegal. I’ve been with Woobie (the nickname given the firm by its employees) for about eighteen years, and I would be look-ing forward to the next eighteen years, if it were not for the man standing in front of me.

I didn’t need to raise my face to know that Steele would be immaculately groomed from his GQ-handsome, close-shaven face right down to his fingertips, which would be professionally buffed and shining like dew in the morning sun. And I didn’t need to glance in his direction to know that he was wearing an expensive and beautifully tailored suit. It was also unnecessary to look up to know that he was peeved at me. The sarcasm in his voice hung in the air, waiting to be admired, round and bright, like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

A few years ago, when my old boss, Wendell Wallace, retired, I somehow fell within Steele’s grasp. Steele had requested that I be assigned to him, and the firm agreed. They had even sweetened the pot for me with a nice raise and a private office.

They assigned me to him with an apology, claiming they trusted me to keep Steele and his law practice in line. In other words, I became his professional keeper so the firm’s founding partners could sleep at night.

Now, don’t get me wrong—Mike Steele is an incredible lawyer. He’s brilliant, focused, and ethical, which in this day and age is an accomplishment all on its own. He brings in a ton of new business and is the firm’s top attorney in generating billable hours. He’s Midas with a law degree.

It’s just that sometimes he needs to be beaten about the head with the people-skills bat.

Without raising my face to look at Steele, I gave in and broke my silence. I pushed the newspaper back in his direction. “Not exactly my best side, is it?”
In the photo, my two-hundred-plus-pound bulk was being squeezed from either side by two angry women. I looked like a pesky pimple ready to pop. The young woman on my right was cute, twenty-something and, like me, plus size. The other woman, who turned out to be her aunt, was trim and looked a lot like her niece, just older and smaller. Both women towered over my five-foot-one-inch frame.

Steele cleared his throat. Peeking up through the hair that slightly hid my face, I saw him cross his arms in front of his chest. He wanted an explanation and would wait all day for one, if necessary. I didn’t owe him any details, and I could be just as stubborn. However, today I decided to go for bonus points with shock value.

Lifting my chin in his direction, I shook my head and tossed my almost-shoulder-length medium brown hair away from my face.

“Jesus, Grey!” In a flash, Steele’s arms uncrossed and he was leaning toward me, both hands flat on my desk. He angled his head to get a better view. “What the hell happened to you?”

“I was slugged by a leg of lamb,” I explained, trying to be non-chalant about it, pretending that assaults by butchered meat hap-pened every day.

At that moment, Kelsey Cavendish, the firm’s librarian, strolled into my small office. With three people, it now reached capacity under the local fire code.

“Hey, Odelia, any plans for lun—” She stopped mid-sentence, then exclaimed in a folksy accent, “Damn, that’s one helluva shiner!”

Kelsey immediately pointed an accusatory finger at Steele. “Did he give you that?”

“What?” Steele half-shouted, turning an indignant, flushed face her way.

“Well, Greg certainly didn’t give it to her,” Kelsey shot back.

“Actually,” I said, interrupting, “I believe my assailant came from New Zealand.”

“Cavendish,” Steele snarled in Kelsey’s direction, “you don’t really believe that I’d strike Grey, do you?” He glanced at me. “No matter how tempting.”

Kelsey coolly looked him up and down. She was one of the few people at Woobie who didn’t shrink in his presence. My guess is that if I ever left the firm, she’d be next in line for the keeper position.

“Nah, Steele, I don’t.”

A woman in her mid-thirties, Kelsey Cavendish was tall, slim, and angular, with a plain, friendly face. She was Olive Oyl in the flesh, but with a bigger clothing budget. She gave Steele a wide grin, slipped past him, and plopped herself down in the small chair across from my desk.

“Though I’ll bet you lunch at Morton’s that Odelia’s thought about clobbering you a few times.”

I couldn’t help myself. Like a rude belch, a short, loud guffaw escaped my lips. Kelsey was right, I had thought about clobbering him, and on more than just a few occasions. In fact, I know dozens of people who would like to gather in the parking lot and beat the living crap out of him, starting with his last twenty secretaries.

Michael Steele went through secretaries like I buzzed through Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Our office manager, Tina Swanson, had given up on keeping the secretarial bay outside his office filled and now the placement job fell to yours truly. Lucky me. Currently, we were trying out a very talented temp named

Rachel Keyo. She had just completed her third week with us and so far, so good.

At least she didn’t show signs of bolting—yet. And even though Rachel was a drop-dead gorgeous woman with long, sculpted legs and the face of a Nubian princess, Steele didn’t show signs of seducing her—yet. Of course, Rachel was also in a very advanced state of pregnancy. This latter situation seemed to have a good, yet strange, effect on Steele. Instead of his usual behavior toward sec-retaries, which could swing between charming, sexual scamp and overbearing, demanding ass, Steele treated Rachel with uncharacteristic tenderness, even reverence. Kelsey, who never misses a trick, referred to it as his Madonna fixation. Personally, I don’t care what it’s called, as long as he keeps treating Rachel with respect and the work keeps flowing out the door.

Jolene McHugh, another attorney at Woobie who shares secretarial services with Steele and me, loves working with Rachel, and no wonder. Rachel’s legal skills extend far beyond typing and dictation. Her last job had been in the legal department of a large corpo-ration, but several months ago she was laid off when that company downsized. She came to us on a trial basis through a friend of one of the attorneys, and if everything continues smoothly, Jolene and I will recommend that Tina hire the woman permanently after her maternity leave, providing, of course, Rachel was equally excited about the idea. But Jolene had already expressed her concern to me that somehow Steele would screw things up for everyone.

Kelsey looked down at the newspaper still on my desk, and her smile grew wider. “Is that really you?”

I nodded slowly, suddenly wishing I had called in sick.

Kelsey leaned in closer. “So, just how did you get that shiner?”

Steele, who was now leaning against the doorjamb, also moved in closer. You would have thought no one had work to do.

With a deep sigh that swelled my hefty bosom like a rolling wave, I began the saga of the leg of lamb, only to be interrupted by my phone ringing. A look at the display told me that the caller was Zenobia Washington, my best friend. No doubt she had also seen the morning newspaper. I ignored the phone. I would call Zee back later. I returned my attention to Kelsey and Steele and sighed again.

“It’s nothing, really,” I continued. “I was simply in the market last night—just popped in to pick up some food for Seamus and dinner for myself—when these two women started arguing next to me at the meat counter. Rose, the older one, who turned out to be the younger one’s aunt, began chiding her niece about her weight. In fact, she was being kind of mean about it.”

“Oh, no,” Steele groaned, shaking his head. “Odelia Grey, champion of chubbettes, to the rescue.”

Steele was sarcastically referring to Reality Check, a local support group started several years ago by my late friend Sophie London. Now I lead it, together with Zee. Originally, Reality Check was formed to help large people emotionally cope in a weight-obsessed society. Now it included others facing similar bigotry over other issues, such as physical disabilities.

I curled my lip at Steele before continuing.“Anyway, the niece— her name’s Manuela, Manuela Collado, I believe—started crying and snapping at Rose, and pretty soon the scene escalated into a full-blown family feud.”

“And you couldn’t keep your freckled nose out of it, could you, Grey?” Steele gave another shake of his perfect head. “You couldn’t just walk away? Maybe head to the frozen section and grab a car-ton of Ben and Jerry’s?”

“Steele!” Kelsey snapped. Turning to me, she said, “Go ahead, Odelia, clobber him. I won’t tell.”

“You want to hear this or not?” I asked with annoyance. “If not, I have work to do.”

“Sure, Grey,” Steele said, supporting himself once more against the doorjamb, hands casually shoved into his pockets. “Sing us a stanza of ‘Odelia Had a Little Lamb.’”

Rolling my eyes, I continued.“By the time I tried to break Manuela and Rose apart, it had turned quite nasty and a crowd had gathered, including, I later found out, a photographer from the Register who just happened to be in the store and had his camera bag with him.” I stopped to take a drink of lukewarm coffee from the mug on my desk.

“Anyway, Manuela was calling her aunt some pretty colorful names, and Rose was getting in some good, sound slaps. I had almost succeeded in pulling them apart when, out of nowhere, Manuela picked up that darn leg of lamb and swung it like Babe Ruth, hitting a homer with my left eye.” I looked from Kelsey to Steele.


Kelsey looked at me, then at Steele, then back to me. “Did you at least get to keep the leg of lamb?” Both of them cracked up with laughter.

“Just for that,” I said to Kelsey, “you’re buying lunch.”

It was then we noticed Fran Evans, a senior associate, standing just outside my door. She was tall and willowy, with a long mane of thick, blond hair and a very attractive face that would be down-right stunning if she smiled more. As usual, she was all business and wore an air of disdain like a heavy fragrance. Around the firm, she was getting the reputation of being the female counterpart of Mike Steele. Once she had our attention, Fran indicated she needed to speak with Steele.

Steele told her he’d be with her shortly, then continued our conversation. Fran, her jaw set tight, glared at him. When Steele didn’t make a move to acknowledge her further, Fran tossed her hair in a little fit and took her leave. Once she was gone, he pulled his hands out of his pockets, stood straight, and looked me in the eye.

“I repeat myself, Grey. Why am I not surprised?” He shook his head yet again.

“You’re the only person I know for whom it seems perfectly natural to go into a market for cat food and end up being KO’d by a roast.” He laughed. “Only you, Grey.”

“Too bad about the shiner, Odelia,” Kelsey told me, ignoring him, “especially with your big reunion this weekend. But maybe it won’t be that bad; it might change from plum purple to puke yel-low by then—much easier to cover with makeup.”
Steele raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “Reunion?”

Crap, I thought, something else for him to bug me about. He’ll probably come up with a weekend full of work just to spite me.

“Odelia’s thirtieth high-school reunion is this Saturday,” Kelsey cheerfully informed Steele.

“Damn, Grey, didn’t know you were that old.” Steele appeared to be calculating something. He finally said, “I was … what … about eight years old then.” He paused for what I’m sure he thought was dramatic effect. “Were you an actual flower child? Did you trip the light fantastic to Joplin and Morrison? Do any streakin’? Heh, heh, heh.”

My future with Woobie was looking more like being sentenced to death row.

When he didn’t get a rise out of me, due to an amazing amount of self-control on my part, Steele gave a humph and started to leave. Partway out the door, he stopped and turned back around.

“Don’t forget, Grey, I’ll be out of town the beginning of next week.”

“Where ya goin’?” Kelsey asked eagerly. “And how long can we count on you being gone?”

Steele gave her a chilly smile. “If you’re a good girl, Cavendish, maybe I won’t come back.” Then he strode down the hall to join Fran.

“Why,” I asked Kelsey, as I retrieved my purse from a file drawer in preparation for lunch, “do men always make promises they never intend to keep?”

Meet the Author

Sue Ann Jaffarian is a full-time paralegal who lives and works in Los Angeles. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime, Sue Ann is the author of three mystery series—Odelia Grey, Ghost of Granny Apples, and Madison Rose—and also writes general fiction and short stories. She is widely sought after as a motivational and humorous speaker.

For the most up-to-date list of all Sue Ann's activities, visit the calendar page at www.sueannjaffarian.com.


Murder in Vein, starring friendly, and not-so-friendly, neighborhood vampires."
Joanne Fluke, New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries

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Thugs and Kisses (Odelia Grey Series #3) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The books keep you wanting more. Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Odelia Grey is a sassy, spunky woman, who goes after the "Bad Guys/Girls" and follows the clues until they're caught. Love all of Sue Ann Jaffarian's- Odelia Grey books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nlightening More than 1 year ago
I love Odelia Grey! She is a no nonsense kind of woman that sees someone needs help and takes charge. This volume has some great twists in it keeping you interested all the way through. I had this book read in about 3 days, I couldn't put it down for long. I appreciate that there is a lovely large woman that is a hero - Go big girls! I would recommend this book to teenagers that need to know the size of your heart means more that the size of your body.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Odelia Grey is a paralegal at Wallace, Boer, Brown, and Yates. Her immediate boss Michael Steele requested her and the partners thought she would be good for the hard to get along with anal-retentive obsessive attorney because she has patience and should be able to keep him grounded. They bribed her with a big pay raise and her own office. --- Since her wheelchair bound lover Greg Steven is ill, she takes Detective Dev Frye as her date to her thirtieth high school reunion. While dancing with Dev, Danny Oliver is shot and killed. Everyone has a motive for killing him including Odelia and her friend Sally Kipman who lost custody of her son to him in an ugly court battle. While dealing with being a suspect, her boss Steele never returns from his mini vacation. His car is found at the airport, certain documents from a client are tampered with and he never showed up at the inn where he made reservations. Although it looks bad for Steele who some think broke the law and fled the country, Odelia knows he is too obsessed to do anything illegal. She and Sally team up to help each other locate Steele and find out who murdered Donny. --- Ignoring the amateur sleuth investigating plausibility, THUGS AND KISSES is a very enjoyable reading experience. The whodunit and the missing person case are well thought out run parallel to each other and the sequences smoothly change from one case to the other. The protagonist, a size twenty who is very comfortable with her body does what she believes is right because she has a strong sense of justice and loyalty. Obstinately she refuses to be swayed from the case by her lover, family or friends which sometime make for strained relations. --- Harriet Klausner